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Another TB/homeland security debacle

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 27, 2007 05:30 AM

Remember Andrew Speaker? He’s the TB-infected American who was able to slip through several airline security layers and fly around the globe despite being on a no-fly list in May. There were several other TB/security incidents this year that have fallen down the memory hole.

Looks like we still haven’t learned anything (via SJMercNews):

A Santa Clara County resident infected with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis flew back to the United States earlier this month without alerting authorities of her illness – potentially threatening fellow passengers and people at Stanford Hospital’s emergency room with whom she came into contact.

Now public health officials are trying to alert those who may be at risk.

The 30-year-old woman, who went to Stanford Hospital several days after arriving back in the Bay Area and who is now being treated in isolation there, is infected with multi-drug resistant TB. That form of the bacterial disease is emerging as a significant global public health problem because it is difficult and expensive to treat and has a higher mortality rate than conventional TB.

Just seven months after Atlanta personal-injury lawyer Andrew Speaker came under intense public fire for traveling to Europe while knowingly infected with drug-resistant TB, Santa Clara public health officers and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating how a woman who had been diagnosed with an active case of TB while abroad was able to easily step foot on an international flight.

The CDC, county health authorities and Stanford Hospital officials have been informing passengers who sat within two rows of the woman on the flight. In addition, a handful of patients, visitors and staff who were in the Stanford emergency room at the same time as the woman were told they might be in danger of getting the respiratory illness and were urged to undergo testing immediately and again in several months.
Citing federal patient confidentiality rules, health authorities would not name the infected woman or the country she was visiting. A CDC spokeswoman said the agency was not yet ready to disclose the airline and flight she was on, where her flight originated or even what day she landed in San Francisco.

That’s right: They won’t tell the public the woman’s name, the airline and flight she was on, where the flight came from, or when she landed.

So, they’ve succeeded in scaring the bejeesus out of a large population of the flying public without giving them any specific information to make proper risk assessments.

Thanks, DHS, TSA, and CDC.

Your hard-earned tax dollars at work again.

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